Subject: AFP: Ramos-Horta declared ETimor president as violence flares

Agence France Presse

May 16, 2007

Ramos-Horta declared ETimor president as violence flares

DILI, May 16 2007

Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta was officially declared East Timor's president on Wednesday amid reports of fresh outbreaks of violence in the country.

Four homes were burned to the ground as rival gangs clashed in the capital Dili in renewed unrest, but officials said the incidents were unrelated to last week's presidential election.

"It is a sign of a resurgence in clashes between gangs," said UN spokeswoman Allison Cooper.

"We don't believe it was related to the election, although UN police are investigating," Cooper told AFP.

One resident said some of the gang members were carrying guns as they battled in the Bairro Pite area, although no injuries were reported.

"They attacked this morning at 10:00 am. They took over the area and burned houses until police came. Some of them were carrying automatic weapons," the resident told AFP, declining to be named.

In western Ermera district, one person was killed on Monday and two others were injured in an apparent dispute over land, a hospital official said.

UN and local police, backed by foreign peacekeeping troops, have been restoring security in the troubled nation after violence erupted between rival groups in May last year, leaving 37 people dead.

This week's violence comes as the court of appeal declared official the results of last Wednesday's landmark election.

"In accordance with the law, the judges who sit in the court declare the results of the election on 9 May, 2007 to be valid," said court of appeal chairman Claudio Ximenes.

"The elected candidate for East Timor president is Jose Ramos-Horta."

Ramos-Horta will be sworn in as president on Sunday.

He won 69 percent of the vote in the election, raising hopes among many East Timorese that he will bring peace and heal divisions after last year's unrest.

"I am confident that the new president Dr Jose Ramos-Horta will energetically tackle the problems facing the country on behalf of all Timorese people," said Atul Khare, the head of the UN mission in East Timor.

Khare also warned against violence in the aftermath of the vote, which was staged amid tight security.

"People who commit criminal acts will be treated as criminals by the police. Claiming to act out of political motivation following last week's election will not be tolerated," he said.

Arson attacks have been reported in Ermera and Viqueque districts in recent days. Local community leaders said the incidents were linked to rivalry between supporters of the two presidential candidates.

The ruling Fretilin party's candidate won just 31 percent of the vote.

The election was the impoverished nation's first since it won independence in 2002 following a bloody separation from occupying Indonesian forces.

The clashes in the capital started late Tuesday when the gangs threw rocks at each other and resumed early Wednesday, the UN mission said in a statement.

Seventeen people have been arrested, it said.

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